Thursday, June 19, 2014

SYTYCD: Tara's Top 25

Summer is upon us and with that comes the return of my favorite show (and that of nearly every dancer I know), So You Think You Can Dance. Before the onslaught of new talent and amazing choreography arrives, I thought it would be fun to commemorate the first 10 seasons with my own list of 25 routines. I've been working on this list for nearly a year now! A couple of notes before the rundown:
  • Season 1 routines are not included in this list, as I was in the process of moving from TX to D.C. during Season 1 and did not have great access to television during that time.  Bummer. I know there were some amazing dancers that season, but I just didn't catch them.
  • Music selection did play a big role in some of my Top 25. I often feel that the choreographers' music choices play an instrumental (haha) role in the success (or failure) of the piece.
So, without further ado, my top 25, organized by season:

1) Season 2: "Calling You" (Celine Dion)
Dancers: Heidi Groskreutz and Travis Wall
Choreographer: Mia Michaels

I believe that this is the routine that elevated the show to a new level. Travis is divine and Heidi really stepped up her game. Beautiful.

2) Season 3: "The Chairman's Waltz" (from Memoirs of a Geisha)
Dancers: Jamie Goodwin and Hokuto Konishi (aka Hok)
Choreographer: Wade Robson

I don't always love Wade Robson's stuff (sometimes it's a bit out there for me), but this piece was an unbelievable use of a dancer's unique gift. Jamie was beautiful, but Hok, as the hummingbird, was breathtaking in his movement quality.

3) Season 3: "Hip Hip Chin Chin" (Club des Belugas)
Dancers: Lacey Schwimmer and Danny Tidwell
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin

This dance gets better and better the more times I watch it. Probably the hottest samba that I've ever seen.  Maybe even the hottest dance routine I've ever seen! And Danny isn't even a ballroom dancer. Just goes to show what an amazing ballet dancer can do!

4) Season 3: "We Are the Champions" (Gavin Degraw)
Dancer: Danny Tidwell (solo from Week 9)

I will insert here that Danny Tidwell is my all-time favorite SYTYCD contestant. It infuriated me when Nigel kept trying to put Cheon in the same category as him in season 9. Not even close, as this solo demonstrates. That pirouette sequence . . . I never tire of watching it!

5) Season 4: "Bleeding Love" (Leona Lewis)
Dancers: Chelsie Hightower and Mark Kanemura
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo

This was the first lyrical hip hop routine (and quite possibly the first hip hop routine in general) that I ever really loved.

6) Season 4: "Mercy" (Duffy)
Dancers: Stephen "Twitch" Boss and Katee Shean
Choreographer: Mia Michaels

The emotion and energy in this routine was just phenomenal. The strength of Katee's technique behind those movements was superb, and I just love, love, LOVE Twitch.

7) Season 5: "Koop Island Blues" (Koop, featuring Ane Brun)
Dancers: Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak
Choreographer: Mia Michaels

While neither of these dancers were my favorites of Season 5, OMG, I LOVED this routine. Unbelievably good.

8) Season 5: "Gravity" (Sara Bareilles)
Dancers: Kupono Aweau and Kayla Radomski
Choreographer: Mia Michaels (again!)

As someone who has dealt with the power of addiction, I was unbelievably moved by this piece. I don't think I've ever watched anything so compelling. Kupono was downright terrifying, and Kayla's despair and desperation was heart wrenching.

9) Season 5: "If It Kills Me" (Jason Mraz)
Dancers: Jason Glover and Jeanine Mason
Choreographer: Travis Wall

This routine marked the real arrival of Jeanine Mason, who was one of my favorite female contestants in all 10 season, as well as the debut of Travis Wall (Season 2 contestant) as a choreographer.  The combination of talent, choreography, and music in this piece were really special for me.

10) Season 5: "Loving Is Really My Game" (Brainstorm)
Dancers: Brandon Bryant and Janette Manrara
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez

Whenever Cat Deely announces a disco routine, I groan. I'm not a fan. BUT - this disco routine with Brandon and Janette was fantastic. I loved every minute of it and have not seen its equal since 2009!

11) Season 7: "Hallelujah" (Jeff Buckley)
Dancers: Allison Holker and Alex Wong
Choreographer: Sonja Tayeh

I know most people can't take their eyes off of Allison Holker when she's onstage (and she is tremendous),  but she met her match in Alex Wong. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. His ruptured achilles tendon later in the season was one of the true tragedies of SYTYCD.

12) Season 7: "Outta Your Mind" (Lil Jon and LM*AO)
Dancers: Stephen "Twitch" Boss and Alex Wong
Choreographers: Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo

Just genius. I'm still in awe of the fact that Alex, a professionally trained ballet dancer, could get down that like that.

13) Season 7: "Collide" (Howie Day)
Dancers: Kent Boyd and Lauren Froderman
Choreographer: Travis Wall

This routine almost didn't make the list, but Lauren Froderman is my all-time favorite female contestant (and who didn't love Kent?!) and this dance was just so sweet and beautifully danced. A lovely pairing.

14) Season 7: "Oblivion" (Astor Piazzolla)
Dancers: Lauren Froderman and Pasha Kovalev
Choreographers: Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo

This was just an amazing Argentinian tango. I'd sacrifice a lot to dance with Pasha for just 10 minutes.

15) Season 8: "Misty Blue" (Dorothy Moore)
Dancers: Stephen "Twitch" Boss and Sasha Mallory
Choreographer: Christopher Scott

This routine . . . Twitch, Sasah, the choreography, and the MUSIC. I could listen to this song over and over, and watch this routine over and over as well.

16) Season 8: "Turn to Stone" (Ingrid Michaelson)
Dancers: Marko Germar and Melanie Moore
Choreographer: Travis Wall

I loved the concept of this routine and the music made my heart jump about 3/4 of the way through. Melanie and Marko were amazing in this number.

17) Season 9: "Unstoppable" (E.S. Posthumus)
Dancers: Lindsay Arnold and Cole Horibe
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison

I'm no expert in the paso doble, but this was by far the best I've ever seen on SYTYCD. Unreal. Cole was one of my favorite contestants on Season 9.

18) Season 9: "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (Nancy Sinatra)
Dancers: Eliana Girard and Alex Wong
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey

Alex Wong. Alex Wong. Alex Wong. Amazing choreography, haunting music.

19) Season 9: "Power of Love" (Celine Dion)
Dancers: Tiffany Maher and Ade Obayomi
Choreographer: Mandy Moore

Cheesy - yes. But the way Ade just tossed little Tiffany around that stage was breathtaking. I loved the movement quality in this routine.

20) Season 10: "Pretty Lil Heart" (Robin Thicke, feat. Lil Wayne)
Dancers: Mackenzie Dustman and Paul Karmiyan
Choreographer: Dave Scott

This was possibly my favorite hip hop routine ever on SYTYCD. Mackenzie stuns, but Paul is also unreal (I so wanted him to take the whole thing!). The way his body moves in this routine is downright criminal.

21) Season 10: "Edge of Glory" (Lady Gaga)
Dancers: Mackenzie Dustman and Paul Karmiyan
Choreographer: Mandy Moore

Another Mackenzie/Paul routine. I really loved these two dancers together and this routine was just beautiful in the intimacy they created on stage.

22) Season 10: "The Gravel Road" (from The Village)
Dancers: Top 10
Choreographer: Christopher Scott

This was probably my favorite group number in SYTYCD history. The choreography was inspired (amazing use of props) and the music and dancing just superb.

*For some reason, YouTube is not cooperating and letting me post the video here, but I think if you click here, you can link to it.  find the video of this routine (even though I can find it via another browser). I'll keep trying and post later, if I can get it!

23)  Season 10: "Wicked Game" (James Vincent McMorrow)
Dancers: Travis Wall and Amy Yakima
Choreographer: Travis Wall

It was so great to see Travis dance again, and he pulled out all the stops on this routine with Amy, who is definitely a powerhouse of a dancer.

24) Season 10: "Sand" (Nathan Lanier, feat. Karen Whipple)
Dancers: Top 10 Guys
Choreographer: Christopher Scott

Another phenomenal group routine by Christopher Scott. I think I like his group work better than this duets. The boys were awesome in this and that sand could not have been easy to work with.

25) Season 10: "Spiegel Im Spiegel - Arvo Part" (performed by Angela Yoffe and Vadim Gluzman)
Dancers: Jasmine Harper and Du-shaunt "Fik-shun" Stegall
Choreographer: Travis Wall

Possibly my favorite routine of Season 10. I was moved to tears by the music, the choreography, the costumes, and the dancing. Jasmine's legs just went on for forever, and Fik-shun stepped up his game to partner her quite nicely, despite the height difference.

And there it is!  Can't wait for Season 11 to kick into high gear in the upcoming weeks. I'll be interested to see if any new routines take over some spots in my Top 25. Let the dancing begin!